When I first ventured into the role of caregiver with my own mother, I had a lot of questions. One of the first things I wanted to know more about was home care vs. home health care. In a nutshell, home care is any in-home assistance that is non-medical, while home health care is in-home care that requires a certified or licensed health care professional and is usually prescribed by a physician.
What are the difference in services?
Home Care can provide:
Grocery Shopping and meal preparation
Hygiene and dressing
Home Health Care can provide:
Who needs home care or home health care?
It really could be anyone that needs assistance. Some examples of each are:
Home Care clients could be:
• New moms adjusting to life with baby
• Someone recuperating from hospital stay but needs basic assistance with daily activities
• Wheelchair bound clients that needs assistance with tasks and daily activities
• Seniors who need companionship, help with tasks and daily activities
Home Health Care clients could be:
• New moms with special needs child that requires continued medical attention
• Post-Operative recovery patients needing ongoing rehabilitation or therapy
• Seniors with medical needs such as medications, wound care, injections, etc
Are they both covered by insurance?
Home Care is typically NOT covered by private health insurance or medicare. It is almost always a private pay service. The only exception would be if the client has long-term care insurance and it is covered in the policy. However, Medicaid will pay in some instances and all states have different waivers and income qualifications. For more information visit https://www.medicaidplanningassistance.org/in-home-care/
Most Home Health Care should be covered by insurance when prescribed by a physician. However, an important aspect to keep in mind is that many times the insurance/Medicare/Medicaid will only cover a certain amount of time or visits. (ie. For wound care, the patient may need a week of care, but insurance only covers three visits for that week. After three visits, you’ll need to supplement with private pay.) So it’s good to find home care providers that also have health care services and licensed health care professionals to help with those needs.
Is there a contract or time commitment required?
For either home care or home health care services, you’ll want to look for a service that does not lock you into a contract of time. Some caregiving will have a short window of time needed, such as post-operative recovery help. When the client is “back on their feet” the service may no longer be needed. Other situations may require ongoing help, like aging parents that want to stay in their home and will progressively need more assistance and care. Most home care agencies will require a minimum time of a few hours, but usually it’s a longer period of time.
Home Care or Home Health professionals may visit the home for a couple hours or all day, depending on the care plan that is created for the client based on the amount of assistance needed. Every home care or home health care plan/schedule is different. It should cater to the client’s schedule and needs.
What are other benefits of home care or home health care?
It relieves stress from family members.
Oftentimes, caregiving falls to the immediate family, which can cause an extraordinary amount of added stress, especially if they have other responsibilities and/or are uncomfortable with certain aspects of caregiving. (hygiene, medical, etc) Knowing a professional is taking care of a loved one’s physical and medical needs allows family members to focus on fewer specific tasks (ie, handling finances or grocery shopping).
Hiring medical professionals for any medically related care is not just wise, but reassuring. From simple medication management to more complicated procedures like wound care and catheter insertions, having a trained and licensed professional handling these tasks lets your loved one have the best care possible.
It promotes healthier aging.
The best way to help aging seniors maintain the most optimum physical, mental and emotional health is by allowing them to “age in place.” In other words, stay in their home as long as possible. Enlisting home care or home health care services will enable aging seniors to remain in their homes and continue living a fairly independent life without the major emotional disruption of moving. Additionally, starting a caregiving service early on, with simpler tasks such as light housekeeping or grocery shopping, will help seniors to adapt to the idea of having “help.” Many times with aging seniors, the greater the need of the client, the greater their resistance to accept help. (Here is some more helpful information about Aging In Place: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/aging-place-growing-older-home)
One Final Tip
When learning about home care vs home health care, interview potential care giving services and ask lots of questions. They will become your extended family so it’s important that you have a good feeling about whoever is helping to care for you or your loved ones. Many times the situation will call for a combination of home care AND home health care, so be sure to talk that over with any caregiving services so you have a clear picture of what the process will look like.
The Nursing Team is dedicated to transforming the lives of our clients and their families by providing extraordinary home care services. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or to set up an initial free consultation.